Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Dudley... my old home...

During my summer hols, I visited Dudley. Which might well seem strange to anyone who's ever been to Dudley, there's certainly precious little about it that makes it journey worthy as a holiday destination, that's for sure.

But I'm a product of Dudley. Born and raised there. Ok, so I left there and moved to be a Birmingham boy once school had finished, but still, Dudley is a place dear to me, or at least the memories of bits of Dudley are anyway. three places; Dudley, Birmingham, Yorkshire. Born and raised in Dudley, adulthood split between the big city and the small town of Birmingham and Pocklington. I've regularly gone back to Birmingham, both solo and with family, visiting friends and family, but aside from a quick drive-through a few years back, I've not been properly back to Dudley for the best part of a couple of decades.

Bloody hell. It's changed.

Granted, even when I did go back before, when ma & pa used to live there, it was a dive and had been for many years. Thing is, I only really went back and saw them, so all I really saw was the nicer end. (Yes, the posh end). But walking through the town centre it's scary how distanced I felt from where I grew up. The people and the places, all have changed, but my memories carry on.

So many wonderful memories, so many wonderful experiences this time round. Now, it might be a couple of years before I head back again, but when I do it will be with great pleasure once more. There's no way to reclaim the past, but you can certainly remember it fondly, enjoy the now, look forward to the future.

First up... the marketplace. It's hardly the place I remember from being a kid, but it's still pretty much the same. Although at least Teddy Grey's sweet shop is still there - ice-cream cone with choc sprinkles thanks very much..

This I used to love as a kid. The bridge from Beatties to Fisher Street car park always looked so incredible to me as a boy, a playground of intersecting walkways, a maze of stairs and platforms. Sure, I know now it's a small thing, a few stairs and that's about it, but hey... childhood and all that. 

Oh, and Beatties isn't there anymore. Hasn't been for a fair few years though. I remember it so well, spending lunchtimes there, taken along by Grandma Bruton (paternal Grandma, very posh, spent money like no tomorrow, died of drink) to have lunch with a load of ladies.. all I really remember is an almost cartoonish level of fur coats smothering the young me. Yeah, it was that sort of group.

Fountain Arcade. Oh, this was a shithole when I returned, practically empty of anything but crap little half stores, too many boarded up shops. 

But there is one incredible shop still there, the Arcade Toy Shop. It used to be in two locations when I was a kid, both in the arcade, but now it's just in the one. But oh, the memories. Star Wars toys the first time round, back in the day when it was children getting excited about toys rather than a rather unfortunate breed of middle aged men-children (God, if I see one more post on Facebook et al with a 40-something chirping on about how excited they are for the new action figures, well, I'll probably roll my eyes and tut a bit)

And do you see that slash of blue there in the window... well it's this, a ride-in rocket that used to be in the arcade itself, but it's now inside... more fantastic memories...

And this is the brand-new post 16 thing that's sitting on the site of the Dudley School lower school. (iAdvance? Really?)

And here's the old Upper School, rebranded as Castle High many years ago, but always The Dudley School to me...

Now, this might be silly, but this was the architectural and nostalgic highlight of the trip... Dudley Library, beautiful, wonderful, spectacular building, the old revolving doors removed a while back sadly, but the marble steps are still there. It's changed a fair bit no doubt, but it's still structurally the same, and wandering around the place so many memories came flooding back...

The children's library where a love of books began, including the wonderful treasures of Asterix, Tintin and Raymond Briggs. The music library where some wonderful soul had a fabulous taste in music, which meant I could borrow so much good stuff, including Cabaret Voltaire, The Cure, Talking Heads... and so much more, good and occasionally bad. Borrow them, illegally record them onto tape. Home Taping was meant to be killing music at this point, but that's not my experience, not my experience at all. Those of us who loved music at that age could never afford to buy all we wanted to experience, not at the time, but when I started earning any money, it found its way very easily into the tills of many record stores. There are albums I first listened to from Dudley Record Library that I've bought in numerous versions... going from crappy Saisho C90s from Dixons, to buying the tape proper (I was a tape kid, never a record kid), to getting it on CD, then buying it again when the expanded editions came out, then buying the remastered, even more expanded versions. Over the years at Dudley I copied a load of music, but in the years since then, that beautiful immersion in the music triggered a love of music that payed back any debt from taping many, many, many times over.

Oh, and as I was wandering round, I happened to look up and couldn't believe this, a tapestry/artwork I'd long forgotten, but immediately recognised when I saw it up on the wall...

Other things... Priory Park, where I cycled, climbed, played, whether with Grandpa Bruton, who lived just down the road, or later on my todd, with friends. Many happy memories of this one as well...

Oh, and as for where Grandma and Grandpa Bruton lived... this was it. Well, it was smaller back then. When they died, dad extended it and it became a family home, for about a month or so, as that's all I really stayed in it after University.

Southfork was what friends used to call it...

And of course, what trip to Dudley would be complete without a trip to the castle and zoo. Although it's a damn sight steeper these days than I remember. Heaven forfend I go there if my back was any worse than it is, that would be a quite ridiculous thing indeed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

16 - How did that happen?

Seriously. How is it even possible?

16 years ago today little Molly Alice Bruton was born at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham.

Since then she's made the world a better place simply by being part of it, has amazed and confounded, surprised and delighted, entertained and thrilled all those she meets. But most of all, she's filled my life with happiness.

So Happy Birthday Molly Alice Bruton.

Enjoy your day. Love you. Even though you no longer look like this...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Molly Bruton - Proud, proud, proud, proud, proud.

GCSE results day today.

God, that was stress.

Because of various things. But at the end of the day. We are so spectacularly, incredibly, wonderfully, totally, utterly proud of Molly Alice Bruton. Exams all sorted, results great, and on to the whole next set of things to do brilliant at, namely A Levels; English Lit, Media Studies, Music Technology, Applied Science, General Studies (never underestimate the importance of a good General Studies A level. It got me to University, it got her Uncle David to University. And it's an easy, easy A Level.)

I try not to embarrass her too much on here (at least not anymore), but  let's just say we're so very, very, very PROUD of her. She turned out alright y'know.

One thing I have thought about today is that effectively, we're now utterly redundant. We've got her to (nearly) 16, alive, in one piece, pretty sorted for the future. In the old days this means we can quite cheerfully die now. But to be honest, I don't really fancy doing that. I've got A Levels to get through yet at least. Then there's University. Then life.... I plan to be around a fair bit yet.

But Molly Alice Bruton, SO VERY PROUD. OH SO VERY PROUD. Love You XXX

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Happy Birthday to Mrs B, Happy Birthday to Mrs B....

It's the birthday of Mrs B today. A very important birthday (but aren't they all). I could tell you what it is, but I might as well let Molly's fabulous cake do it for me... Bake Off has nothing on Molly...


And that was her haul. Not quite the complete thing, as we're off to see Duran Duran later in the year... a proper treat...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Growing old... the ONE advantage...

Growing old is a crap thing. A really, really crap thing. Anyone tells you otherwise obviously fucked up the whole youth thing. (Yeah, youth is wasted on the young and all that.)

However, the one really bloody great thing about getting old is the whole not giving one whit what anyone else thinks of you. The joy of walking into somewhere new and just not really caring about a reaction, about wearing what you want, being how you want, saying ... well, Jenny Joseph said it best...
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph